New scams are popping up daily so when possible, avoid the situations. Not answering the phone, not giving out any personal or financial information and not being frightened by a threatening phone call are a few ways to protect yourself. The callers can be tricky and lure you in by knowing who you are related to and challenging you when you are most vulnerable. Examples follow.
- I did not answer the phone since it was an unfamiliar caller number. The voicemail said it was the United States Tax Service and I was soon going to be arrested for a tax infraction. A number was given that I was to call immediately. Obviously a scam.
- A grandmother received a call from a distraught grandson – supposedly – who was crying because he had been arrested, was in jail and needed $3,000. She checked with the school and he was in class. Obviously a scam.
- One person received a call from a PC manufacturer’s technician who claimed to have been notified of a problem. He asked for remote access to fix the problem. That is not the way tech support works. Amazingly many people fall for this scam, usually operated out of India or Pakistan.
Major areas of popular scams include: tech support scams, fake/counterfeit merchandise, pets-for-sale scams, grant scams, collection agency scams, property rental scams, payday loan scams, timeshare scams, dating scams, work from home scams, and fake check scams. Some scams are even operated out of prison; case in point is Autry State Prison in South Georgia. Prisoners worked a scam using contraband cellphones smuggled into their institution. The calls indicated their victim failed to appear for jury duty and that a fine or an arrest were the only two options.
How to avoid being scammed? Don’t answer your phone if you do not recognize the number. Also, you may want to obtain identity theft protection services. You can always hold off a caller and contact the company in question for verification if you have any doubts. Recognize that U.S. government representatives do not call American citizens for anything. Do not pay a processing fee or any fee or cash transfer. Certainly do not divulge credit card information. Do not do loan or banking information over the phone; by blocking all collection agency calls you will save yourself a lot of harassment. Keep in mind that many of the scamming phone calls are initiated from Nigeria, India, China, Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and Pakistan. Why would you be sharing financial information out of the country?
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